Wednesday, 30 September 2015

blades of grass, rejoicing: finding the joy in Calvin

'There is not one blade of grass, 
there is no colour in this world 
that is not intended to make us rejoice'  
 John Calvin - from a sermon on 1 Corinthians
Poor John Calvin: he gets such a bad press as a joyless, dour, dusty and dry academic. 
There is so much more to him than the cardboard cut-out caricature. 
A man of his times, who had to make hard, occasionally unpalatable choices, 
yet he was not without joy. Behind the myriad words he left behind are gems 
such as the comment, above. 
Calvin took delight in order. 
Whether it was the manner of his faith and how it was to be arranged and attended to, 
the way governments were to be administered, 
the movement of one note to the next musically, 
or the tiny perfect detail found in the shape of a blade of grass, 
Calvin's faith was one based upon the beauty of simplicity, 
even amidst the very complexity of his theological thoughts. 
In an age of so much change, that quiet yearning for order, 
and of equating orderliness with godliness is wholly understandable.
There are hard sayings of Calvin, but that is not the entirety of the man.
I'm minded to re-read The Institutes once more, with a view 
to going deeper into an understanding of his spirituality. 
The last time around, I was just trying to get to grips with 
the thing as a system of theology in and of itself, particularly relating to church discipline. 
Now without the constraints of a thesis deadline, 
perhaps it's time to reflect on this work through a slightly different lens - 
to spend more time amidst blades of grass, rejoicing; finding the joy in Calvin.

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